The Indians scored six runs in the first two innings and Kluber threw seven nearly spotless innings in a 8-1 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Manager Terry Francona told reporters before the game that 12-game winner Trevor Bauer had been placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture of the right fibula. Bauer was leading the AL in innings pitched and ranked second in strikeouts.
The Indians, at this point of the season, seem oblivious to bad news. They put cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion on the disabled list on Sunday. On Monday, Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations, announced that outfielder Leonys Martin was slowly recovering from a life-threatening bacterial infection, but he did not know if he'd play again this year. Then came word on Bauer, who was hit in the right ankle by a line drive Saturday night in Chicago.
Francona said a timetable for Bauer's return had not been charted yet by the team's medical staff.
So how did the Indians react?
MVP candidate Francisco Lindor opened the game with a single. Michael Brantley walked and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez singled home Lindor to give him 32 RBI in the first inning.
Then Yonder Alonso, hitting cleanup in place on Encarnacion, hit a two-run single to left. By the end of the first inning, the Indians had sent nine men to the plate and owned a 4-0 lead.
They made it 6-0 in the second against Sal Romano (7-10, 5.31) on Ramirez's RBI double and Alonso's sacrifice fly.
Francona gave Ramirez a day off Sunday. In two games since returning to the lineup, Ramirez is 6-for-10 with two homers, five RBI and five runs. Ramirez trails Boston's J.D. Martinez, 37-36, in the AL home run race.
Kluber (15-6, 2.68) threw six scoreless innings before allowing a two-out RBI single by Preston Tucker in the seventh. Kluber, the two time Cy Young winner, struck out seven, walked two as he improved to 4-0 in his career against Cincinnati.
The win gave the Indians a 3-2 lead over the Reds for the Ohio Cup trophy. The Indians can win the cup with a victory on Wednesday night. The series ended in a tie last year, but the Tribe won the Cup in 2016 by sweeping the Reds.
The Indians have outscored the Reds, 18-4, in the last two games. They have won nine of their last 11 games.
What it means
The Indians entered Tuesday's game trailing AL West leader Houston by 5 1/2 games to host the ALD in October. They trailed the hard-charging A's by 3 1/2.
Oakland, which owns the second wild card spot behind the Yankees at the moment, trailed Houston by just two games.
Romano threw 44 pitches, 23 (52 percent) for strikes. Kluber threw 96 pitches, 60 (63 percent) for strikes.
Kluber, in his last four starts, is 3-0 and has thrown 98 or fewer pitches three times.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and Reds drew 19,034 to Great American Ball Park on Tuesday. First pitch was at 7:10 with a temperature of 86 degrees.
Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber will face the Reds and right-hander Robert Stephenson (0-1, 6.75) on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 will carry the game.
In his last start Bieber threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to the White Sox. This will be his first career start against the Reds.
Stephenson is making just his second start of the year for the Reds. He has spent the rest of his time at Class AAA Louisville where he went 14-6 with a 2.87 ERA. He went 6-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last seven starts for Louisville.
This will be his first appearances against the Tribe.